Love one another as I have loved you

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It’s not hard to comprehend “you must love one another just as I have loved you,” although actually living it isn’t always so easy, but the rest of the passage?

“Glorify the Lord,” “Give glory to the Lord,” “Be glorified in the Lord”: it all sounds rather …glorious, but what does it actually mean? What is it about these words Christ spoke that were so important that they were handed down through the centuries to us? I wonder if the apostles, as they sat around the table with Jesus, were as baffled by these words as I am today?

When I need to explore something more deeply, I usually start with a definition of terms. So for this, I get out my dictionary and find that glory can be synonymous with praise, honor, admiration, or distinction, and glorify can be described as the act of giving glory, or exalting. To be glorified can be taken as being covered with the mantle of grace. So if a soldier wins glory on the battlefield, he is earning praise for his actions. And if we glorify the efforts of the school’s football team, we are exalting them, or lifting them up above others in admiration. And saints may be considered glorified when the mantle of God’s grace covers them.

Let me try the reading as “Now has the Son of Man been praised and admired, and in him God has been honored.” If God has been given honor in him, then God will in turn give him praise in himself – for his Godliness – and will exalt him – that is raise him up for admiration – very soon.

Back to the battle field – or in my case, the work place. If I do something very well, I might be praised for my efforts. I like that. But if my work is church work – done for the good of God’s people, am I really doing it for God and His holy church, or am I doing it for the praise I might receive? What are my priorities? What am I really trying to achieve with my good works? The same actions, but different motivation: both invoke praise, but I question if that glory is directed to God or to me?

All this twists back to the second part of today’s Gospel, “Love one another as I have loved you.” If I am working for my own glory, my love is directed selfishly, centered on myself. But if I centered on God and acting with the same kind of unselfish love he has given me, then glory, goes to God, not to me.

Loving one another as God has loved us doesn’t promise to be easy, but perhaps if I ask myself what can I do to glorify God, instead of sitting back waiting for him to spread his mantle of grace on me, I can avoid dis-grace; I can offer God glory instead of seeking my own.

Linda Crowley